Catalina Ponor is back, Lisa Mason is back, Oksana Chusovitina is back; at this rate, maybe Alexi Nemov will show up wearing grips in Rio. Joining the “Gymnastics At Any Age” Club of Returning Superstars is, Romanian legend, Marian Dragulescu, the most successful Romanian male gymnast of the past 30 years! He’s won four World titles on both floor and vault, his best events. He is the originator of the “Dragulescu vault,” a handspring double front half out, which is named for him and still considered one of the hardest elements on vault. Yes, you know his name because it’s mentioned seven hundred times on ever men’s gymnastics broadcast and this very show.
Even though he’s been incredibly successful, there’s still something missing from the bag he keeps his medals in (true fact, bag, not his underwear drawer or display case). Despite sticking his signature vault in Olympic event finals in both 2004 and 2008, Dragulescu fell on his second vaults at both Games, losing what was almost sure to have been the gold medal. He was to the Athens and Bejing men’s Olympic vault final, what McKayla Maroney was to the women’s London vault final. He did not compete at the 2012 Olympics after an ankle injury suffered at the kept him from being in peak condition in time. Now the re-married father of two, wants Olympic gold.
Gymternet fairy-godmother Emma Bailey, Romanian-born, editor-in-cheif of The Couch Gymnast Bea Gheorghisor, and Jessica discuss:
- What Kohei Uchimura’s parents told him long long ago!
- How’s he’s dealt with the tabloid’s obsession with his ex-wife Larissa.
- His motivation for coming back now after all of his success (are you listening, Marta?!).
- The importance of partying after the stress of competition.
- Was he worried he would get in trouble for standing on the vault to celebrate after winning gold in 2009.
- GymMyth Busters Romanian Edition:
- Is it true that Romania gymnasts get a pension and a house for winning a World or Olympic medal?
- Are male and female athletes given the same pension amount.
- Why the murky waters of Romanian laws around sponsorship make pensions and prize money so important for their gymnastics program.
- The injury that forced him to miss the 2012 Olympics.
- Finally, the story behind the fur vest he wore for his Gala performance in Mexico.
- What he learned from the negative and positive experiences in his storied gymnastics career.
- The 2004 Olympic vault and floor controversies: how does he feel then and now about losing a tie breaker with Kyle Shewfelt for the floor gold but winning bronze despite a fall in the vault final.
- If it has it been difficult or relatively easy to get his skills back.
- How social media helps motivate him.
- Why he decided to try his now Eponymous skill Drăgulescu (double front half vault) and what his coaches thought of that idea back in 1999:
- Which current gymnasts do his vault best?
- The status of the Dragulescu II vault — double front full out, and Dragulescu III –double front rudi out. Not even kidding about that last one.
- What to put up for a vault skill number at the end of the runway when you are doing a vault that has never been done before.
- Man puberty! Yes, puberty isn’t just for awkward NBC commentary anymore!
Follow Marian on his official YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts.
- 151: Danell Leyva
- 138: Prince Emyre Cole
- 150: Luke Carson
- 139: Steve Butcher, President of the FIG Men’s Technical Committee
- 132: It’s Never Too Late to Start Adult Gymnastics
- 116: Louis Smith, Amelle Berrabah of Team Sexy & Tumble Episode 5 Recap
- 115: Kenzo Shirai
- 72: John Orozco
- Episode 32: Sam Mikulak & 2013 Men’s NCAA Championships
- Episode 4: Louis Smith, Spanny’s Athlete Oath, Making Men’s Gymnastics More Popular
- Episode 21: Kyle Shewfelt
- Episode 24: Sho Nakamori & Match-Play Meet Debrief with Justin Spring
- Episode 35: Jake Dalton
- Episode 40: Michigan’s Stacey Ervin
Watch this week’s playlist on YouTube here.
I think this is one of my favorite interviews so far but I am biased because Dragulescu is one of my all time favorite gymnasts. I would love to see that Dragulescu 2 in Rio.